January 10, 2008 / 6:34 AM / 10 years ago

Roddick sweeps aside Safin to reach Kooyong final

<p>Andy Roddick returns a shot to Marat Safin of Russia at the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Melbourne January 10, 2008.Steve Holland</p>

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former world number one Andy Roddick beat Marat Safin 6-3 6-3 to reach the final of the Kooyong Classic on Thursday and said a shortened off-season could work in his favor at next week's Australian Open.

The Kooyong Classic is a warm-up tournament for the first grand-slam event of the year, which begins on Monday.

Roddick, the winner at Kooyong in 2006 and 2007, will face either Chilean Fernando Gonzalez or Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus in Saturday's final.

Having helped the United States to victory in the Davis Cup just over a month ago, Roddick has had less time than most players to recover and prepare for the new season.

However, the 25-year-old looked in good form against Safin and said he felt ready for a crack at the Australian Open title.

"I feel pretty good physically," Roddick said.

<p>Marat Safin of Russia kicks the ball during his match against Andy Roddick at the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Melbourne January 10, 2008.Steve Holland</p>

"Maybe the short off-season was beneficial to me because I didn't take too much time off.

"I feel as prepared as I've been, and I feel like I'm hitting the ball pretty well. This is good preparation."

Briton Andy Murray, who was beaten by Safin on day one, came back from a set and 3-0 down to beat Croat Ivan Ljubicic 6-7 6-4 6-2.

Murray will play Australian Brydan Klein, who replaced Argentine David Nalbandian after he pulled out with back spasms, in the play-off for fifth place.

World number four Nikolay Davydenko of Russia also withdrew from the eight-man exhibition event on Thursday, citing fatigue.

World number one Roger Federer, who withdrew on the eve of the event because of a stomach virus, could yet play one match on Saturday, organizers said.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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